WAKF Commission Submits Report to AG Githu

The Taskforce reviewing the Wakf Commissioners Act of 1951 has submitted its report to Attorney General, Githu Muigai.

Githu appointed the 10-member Taskforce Chaired by Prof Hamadi Boga in October 2015 to review the Act and align it with the current Constitution, and come up with recommendations based on international best practices regarding the management and utilisation of Wakf properties in line with Islamic law.

According to the Islamic law and Section 2 of the Wakf Commissioners Act, Wakf is a religious, charitable, or benevolent endowment or dedication of any property in accordance with Islamic Law.

Receiving the report from the Taskforce Chairperson at his Chambers, the AG said he will review the recommendations and come up with a new law that will be reviewed by the public and Parliament for approval.

In a press statement sent to newrooms Tuesday, the AG said the Wakf Commissioners Act 1951 is an old law that was informed by the policies of the colonial era that categorised Kenyans based on race and was not in tandem with current Islamic law and not aligned to the Constitution.

The structure and organisation of the Wakf Commissioners of Kenya as is currently constituted do not meet the expectations of the Muslim Community and the descendants of those who dedicated their properties to Wakf, added the AG.

In his remarks, Prof. Boga observed that during the peak of the Wakf Commission, the Act only operated in the former Coast Province, and added that it is vital that all the interests of people professing the Islamic faith be considered in line with the spirit of the Kenyan Constitution.

Previously, it defined Muslims as Arabs, members of the twelve tribes, a Baluchi, a Somali, a Comoro islander, a Malagasy or a native of Africa of the Muslim faith. This was discrimination by the colonialist, said Boga.

He said since Islam faith is professed everywhere, the taskforce recommends that the reformed Wakf Commission should have few commissioners who are highly qualified and competent in Islamic Law, among them female members.

We have also recommended the setting up of five regional offices in Coast, Central, North-Eastern, Rift Valley and Western Kenya, added Boga.

Speaking at the event, Prof. Saad Yahya, a member of the Commission observed that the Wakf endowments ought to be seen as a significant contribution to national wealth and its growth in a compassionate and poor-friendly manner.

The growth of Islamic Banking and the Shariah-compliant investment market over the last decade augers well for the Wakf sector, hence there is need to support the work of the Wakf Commission through the adoption of Shariah compliant financing practice, Professor Yahya stated.

Extracts of the review report indicate that Waqf continues to benefit the wider community in terms of socio-economic status and eradication of poverty, hence recommends that traditions and customs of the various communities in which Waqf endowments are in use should be respected.

The report states that a substantial proportion of land in the area is tied up in long leases at very low rents, much to the disadvantage of the Waqf beneficiaries and when leases expire there is no reliable machinery for negotiating extensions, repossession or finding another lessee.

It further illustrates that 141 out of the 264 properties in Mombasa and Lamu especially are leased out at Kshs. 1,000 per annum with some leases having being granted between 2012 and 2014 and expected to expire in 2100

In regards to the contentious issue of land in the Coastal strip, the report recommends the development of legislation and rules under the Land Registration Act restraining the Registrar of Lands from registering any transaction involving Wakf properties without the approval of the Wakf Commission or Trustee (Mutawalli).

The report also proposes that Waqf assets and infrastructure benefit sustainably the designated beneficiaries, be they individuals or groups and that unclaimed assets held by the Public Trustee or Unclaimed Assets Authority which belonged to Muslim should be transferred to the Waqf Commission.

It further recommends that best practice be adopted in administering Waqf endowments with the aim of reducing poverty, improving the social wellbeing and generally enhancing the living standards of beneficiaries in accordance with the will of the grantor.

The report says that by creating a national footprint for the public institution responsible for administering Wakfs, the Commission will serve a wider clientele as well as expand the scope of legitimate endowments and grants to include also neglected purposes such as the protection of refugees, displaced persons, the aged, children and disabled citizens while contributing to the attainment of the Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Other members of the Task Force include Sheikh Juma Ngao, and Nagib Shamsan as Wakf Commissioners, Shariff Hussein Ahmed, Zubeir Noor Hussein, Shiekh Ibrahim Lethome, Shiekh Abdallah Kheir and Dr. Mwanakitini Bakari serve as members while the Chief Kadhi Sheikh Ahmed Muhdhar S. Hussein is an ex officio member of the Commission.

Source: Kenya News Agency